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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Bug-hit Cumbrian school to get specialist clean team

A specialist deep clean team will visit a Penrith school which was hit by a sickness outbreak to make sure all traces of the bug are eliminated.

Tim Glendinning photo
Tim Glendinning

Public Health England say they are hopeful that the outbreak – which saw 90 pupils off sick from Beaconside School – may have run its course.

At its height, a fifth of the 490-strong school was absent.

A joint investigation has been launched – by Public Health England and environmental health officials from Eden Council – into the cause of the outbreak, which is not thought to be linked to food preparation at the school.

The specialist cleaning team are due to visit over the weekend.

The school said many of those affected are now back after parents were advised to keep them off for 48 hours to prevent the outbreak spreading.

Headteacher Tim Glendinning said attendance levels were back up to 96 per cent.

He said: “As an added precaution we are going to get a deep clean team in, when the children aren’t in, over the weekend.”

Mr Glendinning praised his staff and added: “They were brilliant, they’ve all done the best they can. They changed their schedules to focus on key areas.”

A Public Health England spokeswoman said that only 18 pupils were absent yesterday and it was possible that the outbreak had “run its course”.

She added that they were notified last Thursday and it was possibly a 24-hour bug which was likely to be norovirus.

A spokeswoman from North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said that there have been no other confirmed cases of the norovirus in the area recently.

Staff at the school first noticed large numbers of children were either not coming into school or having to be sent home last Wednesday.

Attendance the next day was down by 19 per cent and it was thought to be an outbreak of norovirus – which becomes airborne easily and can therefore spread quickly.

Mr Glendinning contacted both Public Health England and Eden Council’s environmental health officers for advice.

Enhanced cleaning regimes were introduced to further prevent any spread of the illness.

Advice included cleaning door handles twice daily, instead of just once, because they are one of the main points for passing on germs.

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